100 person convening2

Taking Convening To Scale

August 25, 2015 //

For the past ten years, TWI has explored bringing people together in authentic, unconferencey ways.   In early October, we are bringing together over one hundred partners for a weekend of “trust in practice.” As we turned our attention toward this convening, I reviewed the feedback and lessons learned from last time.

I came across the following list, of 10 things I learned, I wrote just after the last retreat and found them handy, so thought they might be useful to others:

  1. Never try to sit in one large circle – seems like the people across from you are on another continent. Always put something beautiful in the center of the circle.
  2. Give clear, sharp, and timely directions. Give them repeatedly. Do not be afraid of saying the same thing thrice, because someone has not heard you the first two times.
  3. If you want everyone “back at 10:30” say, “please be back at 10:20.” Thenprepare to start at 10:40. 100 people = slow moving molasses type movement. Plus there are peanut m&m’s to congregate around.
  4. Start with a workshop on listening, inclusion, and equity. Especially the listening part. Especially the inclusion part. Especially the equity part.
  5. Make room for introverts with some structured time and spacious space, and some time to sit in silence.
  6. Have a team of 3-5 facilitators who are observing the energy of the room and ready to take emergent, appropriate action. Make sure to ask them for help.
  7. If you are the organizer, do not be overly self-reliant. See #6.
  8. Make sure there is not a heat wave in Santa Cruz, while having packed your new fall wardrobe.
  9. Actually sit down and eat meals and have conversations with all the lovely people you’ve brought together. Eat slowly. Talk leisurely. Take them in.
  10. Prepare to fall in love a million times, even with people you thought you already knew. Recall that this is why you do this in the first place. But do not repeat for another 18 months.




  1. Jonathan C. Lewis on August 29, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Love this!

    • Pia Infante on August 31, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks Jonathan! Would love to hear a bit about your lessons from convening multiple hundreds of people, too.